Do you own a blog or manage a website for business? Are you wondering how you convert your traffic volume into paying or engaging customers? Social proof could be the game-changer you’re looking for.
First, if your site is doing well in volume of organic visitors, that is a good sign. It generally means the hard part is half done. You need to make these visitors ‘stick’ with a working strategy. Convince them with the credibility of your business so they can act in the direction you need them to. One effective way to do this is by social proof.
What is social proof? To explain, I will illustrate with some common examples.
- When you are in a room and everybody suddenly looks towards the door, do you do the same?
- At the grocery store, you see two flavors of ice cream you have never tried. One is nearly finished (as if people have been buying it), while the other one is still stacked. Do you pick the ice cream that other people appear to be rejecting?
- When driving in a new area, do you follow a lane most drivers seem to be using?
The force that influences your day-to-day decisions, from something as simple as what to wear to more complex decisions like where to go for a vacation is known as Social Proof.
As a people, we are social beings. Most of the actions we take are motivated by people around us, especially when it is an entirely new decision. This is what makes social proof exist. This incredibly strong force also plays a crucial role in online consumer behaviour. We can leverage social proof and influence the actions visitors take on our blog or website.
Taking advantage of social proof
It is difficult to understand each customer’s individual purchase behavior (without using their personal shopping data). However, it is a lot easier to analyse the behavior as a group.
Online shoppers are generally very impatient, so if they see a way to shorten their shopping cycle, they will consider it. One way many businesses achieve this is by becoming more credible.
The following elements of social proof will increase the credibility of your site.
1. Customer testimonials
Is your website configured to display customers’ testimonials? This is the most commonly used form of social proof. According to a Nielsen research, 92% of people will trust the recommendation of someone in their peer group, while 70% of people will trust a stranger’s recommendation.
This is why there are usually recommendations on the website of most major brands. If you don’t have one, people will be less trusting of your website. Whether it is a simple blog or an Ecommerce website, ensure you integrate genuine testimonials.
2. Celebrity endorsement
For a small business, this is an expensive option. Only brands with a massive advertising budget can afford to pay for celebrity endorsements. Still they make good social proof if you can snag one. However, this is not guaranteed because there is a whole different concept to using celebrities.
For one, they must be a perfect fit for your brand, otherwise it will be poorly received and by then, you would have wasted money on an unnecessary campaign.
3. Social influencers
This is an option for businesses on a budget. Social medial influencers are often regarded as the celebrities of the digital world. They are not only cheap, but appear to have a direct relationship with their followers (unlike celebrities).
A YouTube Vlogger like Zoella Sugg with 12 million subscribers will typically have a direct impact on your audiences and cost a lot cheaper. Sometimes, a social influencer will require just freebies for mentioning your brand. When selecting one, ensure they are on the right platform where your potential customers “hang out.”
4. Case studies
Case studies are more formal, and usually effective for building online authority. They make good social proof. This content is also called long form social proof, and are preferred by certain brands who believe that customers are more trusting of in-depth reviews than few lines common in the customer testimonials.
A typical case study will begin with the customer’s problem, the brand’s solution, their challenges and the result. Naturally, the result presents the brand as the hero who saves the day. If you have any successfully completed projects, consider writing a comprehensive case study on your website.
5. Media mentions
Have you ever done something worthy of recognition that you were mentioned by the media? Even if it was an acknowledgement in a speech, don’t hesitate to put it on your website, they are like online ‘vote of confidence’.
Media mentions are earned media because they are like free publicity; you don’t pay for them and they are often glowing recommendations. According to Peter Connor of Orthosynetics, write the comment in closed quotes with the logo of the media company beneath it. Ensure you place it on a visible section of your site for visitors to see.
6. Customer/client base
Do you have a credible selection of clients you are proud of? Sometimes, the client list can make all the difference. This is particularly helpful for business to business (B2B) services. The potential client will be happy to see that you have done something for a similar business.
In addition, it reassures people to know that certain credible companies trust you, therefore, your company must be credible. This social proof is even more effective if you have a CEOs comment that you can put on the blog or site.
7. Trust seals
In this age of online social proof, ratings and review sites like Yelp, Trust Pilot, Review, Glassdoor and so on, people often search for businesses on these sites to learn what customers are saying about the brand.
If you can, do embed the trust seal on your homepage with a section of positive customer reviews. Of course, it makes no sense to promote it if your reviews are less than stellar. In such a situation, consider alternative trust seals.
Other examples are certifications, badges and security seals, social shares, best-sellers, ambassadors and so on. Beware of stacking everything on your site or you will end up overshadowing the main content. Select a few, display them neatly, and people will be more convinced to act according to your call to action.